SHEGUIANDAH FIRST NATION—What began in 1970 as a business venture into the First Nation doll business, known then as the Ojibway Country Craft Centre, morphed and grew into the bustling Highway 6 business known as the Manitoulin Trading Post.
Late last month, the store held a celebration of its 25 year anniversary complete with cake, balloons, snacks and door prizes for their customers. Proprietor Rita Osawabine was proud to show off the displays created in honour of the anniversary that showcased the many sides of the Osawabine family business. Her four daughters and eight grandchildren were all there to share in the special day too.
Proprietor Rita Osawabine has lovingly and painstakingly overseen this growth and continues to open and close the store each day. Until three years ago this summer, Ms. Osawabine’s husband Frank was by her side on this adventure, as her daughters have been. “Frank was with me all along—we did everything together,” she shared.
The business and gas station had humble beginnings in a trailer on the side of the highway 25 years ago with the new store built in 1999 as the spacious one-stop shop on the Sheguiandah First Nation Islanders have come to know today.
Ms. Osawabine oversaw it all, from doll and drum factory to a blanket making venture to gas station and convenience, all while working as a dietary aide in the hospital and raising a family. She is very much an entrepreneur, and has the Waubetek Business award to prove it.
“I’m here every day, I close every night and do all the banking,” the employer of six told The Expositor. “I’m 71 and I’m proud of my age.” Daughter Debbie has always helped her along the way and can be seen there most mornings.
“I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit,” she added. “And I’m very happy here.”